Ever wondered why bananas are one of the most popular fruits out there? It’s rare to go into a supermarket’s fruit section and not see a display explicitly dedicated to them. This is because they are delicious and healthy while being one of the many fiber-rich fruits.
Bananas are a great source of:
- B Vitamins
- Vitamin C
Bananas are the world’s most ubiquitous fruit, and their history is long-standing, indicating the fruit’s resilience and popularity among all the countries in the world. It’s a common belief that this fruit originated in Southeast Asia around 8000 and 5000 BC. From there, it traveled west with the help of Arab conquerors and then further to the New World, carried by explorers and missionaries. As a result, bananas are now the world’s fourth-most valuable food crop, with wheat, rice, and milk still going strong in the top three.
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Where Are Bananas Grown?
As a tropical fruit, the banana plant thrives in the southern hemisphere. However, the banana industry does extend to countries further north where temperatures are sufficiently high. Banana production is the biggest in India, where almost 30 million tons are produced by banana farmers each year. That’s more than twice that of the second country on the list, China. The Musa Acuminata banana tree is one of the most prominent you’ll find in a banana plantation in southeast Asia, producing many of the edible bananas enjoyed around the world. Globally, banana producers grow over 110 million tons of fruit each year.
What Types of Bananas Are There?
Since they appeared, bananas have found ways to develop and mutate into over 1,000 different types, of which about half are inedible. The most popular types of bananas you’ll find, though, are:
These bananas are the only ones with a truly global reach and the ones you can typically expect to find in any supermarket from across the globe. The Cavendish banana was first propagated in 1834 by Duke George William Spencer Cavendish, who gave it its name.
They have reddish-purple skin, and their taste resembles that of raspberries, making them absolutely delicious.
Lady Finger Bananas
They are also known as baby bananas at about three inches in size since they are smaller and sweeter than the Cavendish variety.
These bananas are popular in Indonesia. They’re smaller than the Cavendish ones and taste like honey-flavored custard with a rich consistency.
These are another favorite type of banana, rich in starch, not typically consumed raw, but used in delicious dishes.
Another name for plantain is a dessert banana, often used as an ingredient for sweet recipes.
These are some of the most unique bananas since they taste tangy and lemony. In addition, they are flatter and smaller than your typical Cavendish bananas.
These bananas are sweeter than the Cavendish variety and resemble the taste of apples and strawberries.
What’s in a Banana?
Bananas are among some of the most nutritious fruits, so let’s look at a more detailed composition of this fruit.
If you take one medium-sized banana (100 g), you can expect to benefit from the following:
- 1.1 grams of protein
- 12.2 grams of sugar
- 22.8 grams of carbs
- 2.6 grams of fiber
- 0.3 grams of fat
However, some things change regarding the nutritional composition of a banana according to its ripening stages. For example, green bananas contain about 80% starch. This later turns into sugars and amounts to less than 1% when bananas are fully ripe.
On the other hand, ripe bananas contain several types of sugar that can be classified as fructose, glucose, and sucrose. To this end, bananas contain a low glycemic index of 42-58. In addition, the amount of water-soluble pectin, a dietary fiber, also increases. An unripe banana also contains decent amounts of resistant starch, which acts as a soluble fiber and benefits your digestive system.
What Are the Health Benefits of Bananas?
As mentioned before and widely agreed upon, bananas, these incredible antioxidant fruits, are a true nutritional powerhouse. This is what makes them an essential aid in preventing and treating a myriad of afflictions and diseases.
Some health benefits are a direct result of the vitamins and minerals that these bananas contain:
- B Vitamins – bananas have a high content of vitamin B6, which is excellent in improving mood, reducing symptoms of depression, and improving brain health, and they may treat anemia.
- Potassium – this is one of the body’s most essential minerals. It regulates fluid levels, nerve signals, and muscle contractions.
- Vitamin C – is an essential aid in the growth, development, and repair of all body tissues. It also helps form collagen, heal wounds, support the immune system, and maintain the health of bones, cartilage, and teeth.
- Magnesium – this mineral is terrific in fighting depression, lowering blood pressure, and reducing insulin resistance. It can help prevent migraines, among other unbeatable health benefits.
- Vitamin A -protects eye health from age-related decline and supports a healthy immune system.
- Iron – this miracle mineral helps preserve energy levels, focus, gastrointestinal processes, and body temperature regulation. Iron usually works incognito in our bodies, and we only start noticing its positive impact on our health only when there’s not enough of it in our system.
- Copper -this is another essential nutrient to the human body since, together with iron, it supports the body to form red blood cells. Having enough of this nutrient in your diet may help prevent the development of cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis.
- Manganese – this helps reduce inflammation in the body, may improve bone health, and plays an essential part in regulating blood sugar levels.
When generally speaking about bananas, it’s important to remember they can help with the following:
- Sleep and nervous system health
- Blood cell health
- More ways they can help
Physical Health Benefits of Bananas
Bananas are an excellent source of potassium, vitamins B6 and C, and magnesium. What’s not to love about them? In addition, a diet high in bananas keeps you from bruising as quickly, thanks to the potassium content. This combination of vitamins and minerals is hard to ignore. The nutrition facts of bananas are simply outstanding and can help with many physical problems. Here’s a list of the issues that can be fixed by increasing your daily intake of these antioxidant fruits:
Bananas’ iron content can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in your blood, which is incredibly helpful to those with iron-deficiency anemia. This is preferable to taking large doses of iron supplements regularly.
The fact that bananas are high in potassium while low in salt makes them great for dealing with blood pressure issues. Because they are so efficient at this, the FDA has approved these claims so that producers of bananas can officially market their products using this information!
Why take laxatives when you can eat a fruit with high fiber content? Bowel problems don’t stand a chance when you involve bananas in your diet.
Combined with honey, Bananas can be made into a milkshake that soothes the stomach, builds up blood sugar levels (often depleted due to drinking), and rehydrates you after a rough night.
Bananas are natural antacids, so you can eat some when heartburn becomes a real problem.
Keeping blood sugar levels up reduces morning sickness while supplying nutrients to you and your baby.
You can rub the inside of a banana peel against your mosquito bites to reduce swelling and irritation. Banana peels are usually thrown away, so this is an excellent way to get some use out of them so you don’t have to buy special lotions for your insect bites.
Bananas can neutralize the acids in your stomach, which is particularly helpful when dealing with ulcers. Other fruits are so acidic that they tend to make the problem worse. Eating bananas can reduce irritation because they coat the lining of your stomach while neutralizing it.
Cultures worldwide have relied on bananas to reduce body temperature in expectant mothers.
Bananas, due to their vitamins B6 and B12 and minerals potassium and magnesium, help the body when dealing with nicotine withdrawal, which can have unpleasant effects on smokers trying to quit.
The New England Journal of Medicine has published studies saying that regularly eating bananas reduces your chance of stroke by a whopping 40%.
The inside of a banana peel, when placed on a wart and taped there for a while, can help eliminate pesky warts. This beats using the freezing or drying out methods of most medications.
Mental Health Benefits of Bananas
Bananas also do a lot of good for your mental health. The tryptophan in bananas can make sufferers of depression feel better, as well as those with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Daily intake of bananas increases brain power, while their high vitamin B content reduces anxiety. People who are stressed tend to deal with a drop in potassium.
It’s important to note that potassium is an electrolyte that supports the health of your nerve cells, which further leads to better communication between the body’s various systems. So by having a regular potassium intake, you can ensure nerve cellular health and a healthy nervous infrastructure.
When it comes to the banana’s benefits in lifting your mood, the scientific process behind it all is quite intricate and beautiful: bananas also contain the amino acid tryptophan, whose absorption in the brain is helped by mood-boosting carbohydrates. At the same time, vitamin B6 helps convert tryptophan into serotonin, the well-known mood-lifting hormone. Due to this, bananas are actually recommended both in treating anxiety and depression, as well as in helping with sleep disorders.
However, this doesn’t automatically mean that your mood will magically improve if you eat one banana. For the body to produce this vital hormone, additional dietary intake is required, especially vitamin B6. So it’s essential to have a diet that covers your vitamin B6 needs so that when you incorporate bananas, you get the full benefits of anxiety relief and mood-boosting.
At the same time, this composition indicates that you start eating one banana per evening if you have insomnia. Having said this, you should eat one in the evening and see if your sleep-wake cycle improves.
You can confidently include bananas in your diet if you’re dealing with the adverse effects of anxiety and depression.
No special preparation is needed to consume these unique antioxidant fruits – you can eat them raw or include them in your morning porridge. Either way, they are easy to eat, delicious, and will be digested quickly due to their fiber content.
Insomnia and poor mood – this can be remedied by eating more bananas because they are high in potassium minerals. When you look at bananas’ nutrition data, it’s hard not to consider them a superfruit!
How Can You Get the Most Out of Your Bananas?
You can store your bananas in several ways, depending on how you prefer eating them. If you like eating them while they’re still greener and would like to store them for as long as possible, it’s indicated that you put them in the top drawer of your fridge. This way, you can still eat them and enjoy all their goodness within 1-2 weeks.
However, suppose you’ve bought them a bit greener but would still like them to ripen into yellow bananas. In that case, it’s indicated that you keep them from the fridge altogether. Bananas are tropical fruits, so colder temperatures can actually prevent them from reaching their most ripe form. Even if you’ve previously stored them in the fridge and then taken them out, this may have negatively impacted their development, and the bananas won’t resume their ripening process.
And, of course, if you’ve left your ripe banana for a little too long and it’s turned soft and mushy, there’s always a classic banana bread to try. So don’t throw that brown banana into the garbage just yet.
Thinking about cooking with one? You can always check out antioxidant-fruits.com’s Fruit Recipe Page to find unique recipes for specific fruits found on this site.
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